I’m standing right next to Forrest Gump

Downy Woodpecker

Some birds are easier to get close to than others.

I can walk within a few feet of this Downy Woodpecker before he flies away. When he flies, he reminds me of a moth. He flutters around and just sort of ends up somewhere.

You can see he is a male by the red patch on his head. This fellow has a distinctive bit of black mixed into the red.

Downy Woodpecker

Behavior is also a way to identify this particular bird. He seems a bit “touched.” Sort of out of it.

Can individual birds be crazier or dumber than other birds of the same species? Did this one fly into a tree, hit his head and boggle his brains? Is he a woodpecker changeling? Or is he one of the young ones still learning his way around?

In these photos, he is a few feet away from a suet cake. Suet is the preferred food of Downy Woodpeckers in our backyard. But he is clinging to a tube feeder, with perches for the finch-type visitors, and staring at the seed.

Downy Woodpecker

A couple of days ago, I watched this woodpecker (I call him Forrest Gump) cling to the tube feeder in this position absolutely motionless for about 8 minutes.

Can woodpeckers fall asleep with their eyes open? Was he in a trance?

Downy Woodpecker

Forrest Gump is awestruck, lost in the moment.

He is going to need some luck to survive in this backyard, with the Broad-winged Hawk and other predators nearby in the woods. Strange little creature.

3 thoughts on “I’m standing right next to Forrest Gump

  1. Tracy

    Love your blog! Starting reading it tonight!
    The downy that was still for such a long time, was most likely “freezing” to try and make himself undetectable to a possible predator that may have been nearby. Some birds fly away quickly and scatter, and some use the “I’m frozen so you can’t see me” method.


  2. Pingback: First bird of the year: the sometimes dazed but indefatigably diligent downy | Amy's Backyard Birds

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